Living Without an Address #2: A Snowstorm and a Broken Heater

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Encountering Murphy’s Law a few times every week for weeks on end wears both patience and stamina. When I bought my RV, I trusted the seller was telling the truth when they said it “ran like a champ.” That turned out to be false. Now it only runs with a clamp holding down a battery connector in the engine. The windshield is broken, and the exhaust pipe underneath has rusted apart to the point where it looks like it might have exploded. Had the seller described the vehicle as “for parts” or “needs repair,” I would have not bought it.

Now I’m stuck with it as my only place to live. My hope is that, by the summer, all the repairs will be complete and I can largely go where I please. Until then, though, I may have to sleep in the cold in my RV. Along with everything else, the heater didn’t work. At one point in the past, it must have, for it had been inspected in 2016. This also was concealed from me during purchase.

Even if I sought a refund or invoked a lemon law, I wouldn’t have a home by the time I was done. If I had to go into a homeless shelter to stay warm, it’s doubtful whether I would be able to keep my job as a senior care provider. There aren’t enough vacancies in Manchester, even for temporary rooms, and those that are here are often expensive.

Mr. Heater “Tough Buddy” is not my friend. Photo/Winter Trabex

The only solution I’ve yet come up with has been to endure the cold.

Of course, I didn’t go into the situation of living in an RV in New Hampshire in January without some kind of plan. I went with a Mr. Heater portable unit from the Enerco Group, which I bought from Home Depot. This unit worked after a week, and then stopped working. The flame wouldn’t stay lit. I got another one (pictured here), which didn’t even work out of the box. I bought an Enerco-brand cord and an Enerco-brand filter. Nothing has proved efficacious in making the heater run.

A friend was kind enough to visit and see if the heater couldn’t get activated. He knows much more than I do, and he couldn’t get it working either. The best we could figure out is the heater is defective right out of the box. So far, I’ve owned it for about two or three weeks. It hasn’t turned on once during that time.

Because I’m supposed to be out in my RV and on my own by now, with a previously agreed-upon deadline, I’ve felt pressured at various times to buy parts for my RV. One of the parts I got was correct. The other two were both wrong – I bought the wrong part twice. It took the last of my money in January to do that, and I’m no closer to having a source of heat in my living space.

Needless to say, friendships that I thought I could count on have grown strained. Others have grown closer. I don’t yet know if there’s fuel assistance for people living in motor homes, or if I just have to spend the next few months wearing endless layers and cuddled up in blanket fort. The only positive I could draw from that situation is the cold causes the human body to burn more calories to stay warm, which can cause weight loss.

Thus far, I still haven’t been able to learn how to drive a stick shift. While various friends have said they could help, none have yet come forward to do so. There aren’t many agencies who can do this, either. The vehicle is wrong all the way around. I sometimes wonder whether it’s even worth it to register the thing, or if I should save up my money to try again in the fall.

Mischief managed. Photo/Winter Trabex

I found myself stuck in the middle of a snow emergency last night. I had to move my RV by 10 p.m., or else it might get towed. Despite all the petitions for aid I made, no one came forward. I had to either move the vehicle myself or learn to leave it and take the risk. On balance, I decided not to risk getting in a crash in the snow, and possibly injuring myself or someone else

6 a.m. came early. I found, to my surprise, my vehicle still there. A few hours later, I was out there shoveling the snow away, thinking of the warm climate of San Diego where I could drive my moped about all the year-round. If I have my way, this will be the last snowstorm I ever experience in my life.

I don’t have a flamethrower for the snow, and I’m tired of broken heaters. All I can do is what Alexandre Dumas prescribed at the end of his novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, “Wait, and hope.”

Winter Trabex is a freelance writer from Manchester. She can be reached at